ECA Main Building reopens

A comprehensive renovation project has breathed new life into Edinburgh College of Art’s (ECA) Main Building on Lauriston Place.

ECA renovations

The building ranks alongside the McEwan Hall, Old College and New College as one of the University’s most iconic buildings.

Following the merger of ECA with the University of Edinburgh in 2011 plans were put in place to redevelop the Art College at Lauriston Place. Central to this was the need to bring the Art College’s Main Building, which was completed in 1909, up to 21st century standards, making it more accessible and ensuring that it would be fit for purpose for future generations of students.   

Work to improve the fire safety, accessibility and the environmental conditions within the building have been carried out along with building fabric repairs and services upgrades. The work began in 2016 and completed at the end of 2018. 

The renovation work to the interior of the building included installing sensor control lighting, power and data infrastructure, new heating and ventilation systems. Improvements have also been made to make the building more accessible including the provision of accessible toilets, lift upgrade and a new ramped entrance.

Repairs to the external fabric of the building include extensive roof repairs, masonry repairs, window refurbishments and the installation of Solar PV panels on the south facing portions of the roof to provide an additional energy source.

The project has involved the sympathetic restoration of the Sculpture Court, the main entrance stairway, the painting studios, and the creation of a new multi-purpose event space in the West Court. This has been created from what was formerly an open air courtyard. Work to make it into a fully flexible event space included the installation of large entrance doors, skylights, flooring and AV equipment.

ECA Acting Principal Stuart Bennett said: “We are delighted with the results of the work that has been carried out to restore Edinburgh College of Art’s Main Building. I want to thank everyone involved. To sensitively maintain the patina and character that has built up since the building was opened in 1909 while upgrading and creating new spaces is a wonderful achievement. The work has secured the historic heart of ECA for future generations of students and staff.” 

The University’s Estates Department is now embarking on a further phase of the Lauriston Place redevelopment which the Main Building will be a core part of.    

February 2019